Times West Virginian
Hailey Garrett and Makenzie White caught fire early and helped lead Fairmont State to its third straight win here Thursday night at the Butcher Athletic Center — a 91-78 romp over Shepherd University.
Garrett, FSU’s junior center, scored all 18 of her points in the opening half to help the Lady Falcons build a 47-26 lead by halftime.
“I think we were all really ready to play tonight and ready to have some fun,” said Garrett, who also grabbed eight rebounds and recorded four steals in the win. “We just kind of fed off of that energy.”
When Garrett wasn’t doing damage offensively early for FSU, White was. The Lady Falcons’ sophomore point guard scored 12 of her team-high 25 points in the first half and picked up right where she left off in the second 20 minutes. Her 25 points tied her college career high for scoring. She also had six assists and four steals.
“This was such an important game for us traveling the day of the game, traveling for three hours and playing at Shepherd, a place we traditionally haven’t won a lot at and I think our kids responded very well,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald, whose team improved to 8-5 overall and to 6-4 in the Mountain East Conference.
“The first half we played with a great deal of energy and took control of the game. In the second half we weathered the first few minutes and then took control again.
“We were able to get eight or nine people double digit minutes tonight and at times different people carried us in each half. This was a great win for us as a team. Now we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
In the second half Shepherd quickly trimmed FSU’s 21-point halftime lead to 14, but the Lady Falcons led by White and Emily Lohr answered the challenge and went on a 22-8 run of their own to push the lead to 28 at 69-41. Together that duo combined for 20 of the 22 points on the run.
Lohr, who was held scoreless in the first half, exploded for 16 points in the final 20 minutes and also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
“We knew Shepherd wouldn’t go down without a fight because they’re a scrappy, hard-working team,” said Lohr. “When they made a little run on us in the second half we knew we had come back and set the tone for the rest of the game which we did.
“Makenzie came out determined like she always does and made some key shots for us. As for me, my shooting was atrocious in the first half, but I just did what I normally do – I kept shooting and my teammates had enough confidence in me to hit them. In the first half when they weren’t falling, I just tried to focus on defense and doing the other little things for us. At halftime, I gathered myself and came out and shot with confidence in the second half.”
Fairmont led by as many as 38 in the second half before emptying its bench and allowing the Lady Rams to make the game appear a lot closer than it actually was.
Brianna Innocent added 14 points and five rebounds for FSU, while Deidra Combs chipped in nine points and six rebounds.
Shepherd, which fell to 2-13 overall and to 2-9 in the league with the loss, got 25 points and 11 rebounds from center Gabby Flinchum. Eighteen of her points came in the second half. The Lady Rams also got 18 points from Cara Mason and 12 from Jimyse Brown.
The victory allowed FSU to move into fifth place in the 12-team league standings. The Lady Falcons will be back in action Saturday when they return home to the Joe Retton Arena to host third-place Charleston at 2 p.m. Fairmont defeated UC in a thriller earlier this season, 78-75.